Anne Lister

Anne Lister (3 April 1791 – 22 September 1840) was an English diarist, famous for revelations for which she was dubbed “the first modern lesbian”, in an article by Chris Raulston.[1]

Lister was from a minor landowning family at Shibden in CalderdaleWest Riding of Yorkshire, and conducted multiple lesbian affairs from her schooldays onwards, often on long trips abroad. Muscular and masculine in appearance, dressed only in black, and highly educated, she was later known, generally unkindly, as ‘Gentleman Jack’. Her final significant relationship was with Ann Walker, to whom she was notionally married in Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York, now celebrated as the birthplace of lesbian marriage in Britain.

Lister’s diaries reveal much about contemporary life in West Yorkshire, including her development of historic Shibden Hall, and her interests in landscaping, mining, railways, and canals. Many entries were written in code that was not decrypted until long after her death. These graphic portrayals of lesbianism were so frank that they were thought to be a hoax until their authenticity was confirmed.

“Anne Lister.” Wikipedia, Accessed 6 Mar. 2022.

Shibden Hall
Tim Green from Bradford, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Kneeling side by side under the medieval arches of the tiny church, two women bowed their heads and prayed. Candles flickering around them, they took the sacrament at the altar. But this was not a normal church service; in the lovers’ eyes, their “marriage” had been sealed.

2019 TV Series Gentleman Jack:

Gentleman Jack (TV Series 2019- ) – IMDb

Gentleman Jack: Created by Sally Wainwright. With Suranne Jones, Sophie Rundle, Timothy West, Rosie Cavaliero. A dramatization of the life of LGBTQ+ trailblazer, voracious learner, and cryptic diarist Anne Lister, who returns to Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1832, determined to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home Shibden Hall.


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